A Blind Man, who was executed in 1800 for the Murder of his Boy Guide
JAMES BRODIE, a blind man, was indicted at the assizes for the county of Nottingham for the murder of a boy, named Robert Selby Hancock, who acted as his guide, on the 24th of March, 1800.
John Robinson, a warrener, said he went into his warren on Sunday, the 24th of March, 1800, about two o'clock in the afternoon. He saw the prisoner, as he supposed, fishing in a rivulet. On approaching him he found him lying on his belly, upon which he called out: "Hullo! What are you doing?" The prisoner said he was a blind man, and had been wandering about all night, for he had lost his guide, who was dead; that he had stayed by him till he had taken his last gasp. The warrener went with two men to seek the boy, and they found him about three miles from the place where the blind man was, covered all over with ling, or fern, as much as would fill a cart. The skull was found fractured in two places, the head covered with blood and torn at the ear, and the shoulders and arms beaten to a jelly.
The blind man had a stick, with which it was supposed he committed the murder.
The prisoner, in his defence, said they had lost their way, and that the boy had got up into a tree, with his assistance, to see if there was any road near; that the boy fell from the tree and hurt himself very much; that just before he had tumbled over a log of wood; that, finding the boy was hurt, and could not stand, he covered him over with ling, in order to keep him from the cold; and that he stayed by him till he was dead.
Not one word of this defence was admitted by the jury, who instantly found him guilty, and execution, in the short time allowed to murderers, followed, at which time this culprit of darkness was but twenty-three years of age.